February 18, 2009

The Great Texas Road Trip Begins

Finally, we are taking it easier after spending some grueling driving time in the car with very few stops between Denver and San Antonio.  This trip is one of our mom’s wild hairs.  It all started because our dad was driving down the road to work and our truck was hit by a rogue wheel that had sheared off a passing van.  When my mom heard that the truck wouldn’t be repaired until March 9th and we’d have this very nice rental car until then, she sparked on this idea of traveling south all the way down to the southern tip of Texas and then up the Rio Grande Valley!  Our dad took a while to warm up to this sudden idea, but we were on board from the start!

This morning we walked along the San Antonio Riverwalk, which runs through the middle of downtown.   With its artificial concrete banks, tended gardens, and lots of nice artistic touches, my dad advised that we wouldn’t really need our binoculars.   He said, “The only birds we’re going to see are grackles and pigeons, and you’ll be able to walk right up to them.”  My mom listened to him, but we didn’t.  We got our first life bird right off the bat, a gorgeous male Golden-fronted Woodpecker at the edge of a parking lot just before dropping down to the Riverwalk.  Down on the river, we spied some very nice birds … Northern Cardinals, Northern Mockingbirds, Inca Dove, White-winged Doves, Carolina Wren, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Double-crested Cormorant, a soaring Black Vulture, and adorable Mallard ducklings with their mom.  Off the river, we found a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and another Orange-crowned Warbler in a tree just outside an office building.   

Northern Mockingbird - by Joel Such

Golden-fronted Woodpecker - by Marcel Such

Alamo Rock Pigeon - by Renee Haip

White-winged Dove on the Riverwalk - by Marcel Such

The next stop in our big adventure was Choke Canyon State Park. Located south of San Antonio, it was a great place to stretch our legs, get a state park pass,  and, of course, check out the bird life.  On Choke Canyon Reservoir, we found lots of American Coots, two Eared Grebes, two Great Egrets, and a couple of Killdeer.  Back away from the lake, we heard an unusual sound, which we promptly investigated.  The singer managed to stay hidden for quite a long while, but we eventually did find it and identify it as a White-eyed Vireo.  In the process of searching for it, we also found a couple of White-crowned Sparrows, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and a Yellow-rumped Warbler. While searching the thorn bushes around the parking lot, Joel turned up an Olive Sparrow, which I missed.  We also saw a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, two Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, some more Yellow-rumped Warblers, two Eastern Phoebe, a Cooper’s Hawk, and two Vermilion Flycatchers.   

Joel's Elusive Olive Sparrow - by Joel Such

Eastern Phoebe - by Marcel Such

Yellow-rumped Warbler - by Joel Such

American Pipit - by Marcel Such

On south we went and by dusk we were standing on a pier jutting out over the Gulf of Mexico! We’re over a thousand miles from home.  A Royal Tern and Great Blue Heron, along with some Laughing Gulls, hung out on the railing undeterred by our presence.  A Reddish Egret fished in some backwaters and two American Oystercatchers were probing on the beach.  Lots of other shorebirds were spied.  It is just a teaser for the days ahead!

Reddish Egret - by Joel Such

Elegant Tern - by Renee Haip

Great Blue Heron - by Renee Haip

1 comment:

Laurie said...

The golden-fronted woodpecker is absolutely gorgeous! What a great photo.
Looks like you guys are having a great time.